Being a pirate was not only men’s business. There were quite some ladies infesting the seas, more than we could probably guess. Two of them are very well known for their ruthlessness, however, and their names were Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
Anne Bonny (1700) was born an illegitimate child of an Irish lawyer and his house maid. Her father was too ashamed of misstep to show himself openly with his daughter, but had grown fond of the girl. Therefore, he dressed her as a boy and told people she was the son of a relative he was taking care of. When Anne grew older, the family moved to South Carolina. What was the reason for their move is not known, it may very well be that the little secret was unveiled and the family wanted to escape rumors.
When Anne was about 18, she fell in love with a poor sailor named James Bonny, whom she married. The couple moved to New Providence in the Bahamas, where they lived in a pirates' lair. Anne enjoyed her life in between of seamen and was said to have an affair with pirate captain John Rackham, also known as “Calico Jack”. In 1718, Bahamas governor Rogers offered the Kings pardon to any pirate, and James turned informant. Anne was disgusted by this cowardly move and sailed off with her lover, Jack Rackham.
Mary Read (1685) was born in Plymouth, England. Her mother's husband had left his wife pregnant with a boy to go to sea, where he died. The widow soon was pregnant again and gave birth to a girl, Mary. Her half-brother soon died after Mary's birth. When Mary's mother got poor on money, she dressed her daughter as a boy and asked her family-in-law for financial support for her and their "grandson". Mary was thus raised as a boy and seemed to enjoy it. When she was only thirteen years old, she served as a powder monkey on a British warship, later she joined the Army of Flanders in both the infantry and later cavalry. It was in the army where she met her future husband - she fell in love with a fellow soldier and revealed to him her true gender. She quit the army and the two married, but he died soon after. Because she knew life was easier as a man, she resumed wearing men's clothing and joined a Dutch merchants ship sailing to the Caribbean. Once there, the ship was overtaken by an American pirate ship - none less than Jack Rackham's.
Mary was taken prisoner by Rackham's crew - who believed she was a boy soldier - and so got acquainted with Anne. As soon as Mary discovered Anne was not the man she appeared to be when fighting other ships, she revealed to Anne that she was actually a woman, too. The two became good friends. Some sources mutter that they were even lovers, but there's no proof for that. Anyway, Jack Rackham wás jealous of his girlfriend's relationship with "that boy", and entered her cabin one day to execture her. Her only salvation was to open her blouse. Rackham stood back, promised to keep her secret, and treated her as an equal from that point on.
The girls fought side by side, and were very active and willing to go as far as necessary. Indeed, they proved to be braver than men at some times. In October 1720, a sloop glided alongside their ship. When they realized it was one of the governor's ships, they called for the crewmates to defend their vessel. Rackham started a gunfire initially, but when the governor's captain ordered the pirates to surrender, Rackham was ready to do so. But the girls didn't think of surrendering, and were the last ones fighting against the governor's men. The pirate crew was outnumbered and taken captive eventually - Jack Rackham was sentenced to death. His final wish was to see his lover, but she had lost all respect for her coward man, and the only thing she had to say to him was: "If you had fought like a man, you needn't to be hang'd like a dog."